The animals were spotted close to the shore between Burghead and Findhorn during a coastal pollution survey by a Civil Air Support team. John Bisset photographed the sharks from a light aircraft piloted by Toni Hausler as CAS supported the Scottish Coastal Rubbish Aerial Photography (SCRAPbook) project.
Scottish Natural Heritage said it was “fairly unusual” to see basking sharks on Scotland’s east coast, although it had heard of increasing sightings in the last five years. The Shark Trust said: “Basking sharks are mainly associated with the west coast of Scotland, but we have had records from the Moray Firth in the past. “It’s not very unusual but it’s always great to see.”
Basking sharks are the world’s second-biggest fish, reaching lengths up to 10m (33ft). They have no teeth and feed on microscopic plankton with their huge, wide-open mouths. Every summer the sharks gather in large numbers off Scotland, usually around small islands between Skye and Mull off the west coast. They are also found off the islands of Coll, Tiree and Hyskeir, before later migrating south to waters around Madeira and the Canary Islands off West Africa.
SCRAPbook is led by CAS and the Moray Firth Partnership. Pilots and observers regularly take to the skies to photograph coastal marine litter.